Boar's head

Nisbet Origins

Boar's head


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This page provides links to entries extracted from books and other documents containing material related to the origins and histories of the Nisbet families in Scotland.

Some entries are marked as being available through the UK branch of the Nesbitt/Nisbet Society (obviously our source of choice) and the complete list of available publications can be viewed at the Society's UK web site.

Older books that are out of print may be available through Bilbliofind, an online database of titles currently offered for sale by antiquarian and second-hand book dealers throughout the world. The holdings of these booksellers are updated on an ongoing basis, and if a title can't be located on the first attempt searching again at a later date may prove successful. If you can't find the book you're looking for you can create a Bibliofind want list and will be notifed by email should the book become available.

Other books still in print may be available through Amazon UK, an online commercial book-selling venture.

The majority of entries below pertain to the Borders area of Scotland, whence the family of Nisbet of that Ilk originated, and the nearby capital region of Edinburgh which, because of its regional and national importance, accommodated Nisbets from all walks of life.


A System of Heraldry by Alexander Nisbet
  • Alexander Nisbet's magnum opus addressing Scottish heraldry, arms and achievements. Nisbet "the Herald" was the great-grandson of Sir Philip Nisbet of that Ilk and the last representative of the direct male line of descent. "A System of Heraldry is one of the most useful research sources for finding the armory of a Scots family. It is also the best readily available source discussing charges used in Scots heraldry."
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Alexander Nisbet's Heraldic Plates by Andrew Ross and Francis J. Grant
  • The authors of this beautiful book sing the praises of Alexander Nisbet, "The Herald", and his landmark work regarding Scottish heraldry. The volume was published in 1892 following the discovery of the plates originally intended for Nisbet's System of Heraldry and contains reproductions of the plates accompanied by genealogies and historical notes pertaining to the respective families. The extended introduction to the book, presented here, addresses the origins of the Nisbet family, the struggles of Sir Alexander Nisbet concerning the Civil War and the loss of his family heritage, the work of Alexander Nisbet the Herald and his place in the heraldic literature of the country (includes a comprehensive bibliography), and memoranda pertaining to other branches of the Nisbet family in Scotland.
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The Edinburgh Directory For 1773-74
  • Five Nisbet entries from the Edinburgh Directory for 1773-74. This facsimile reprint, published in 1889 by William Brown, publisher, reproduces what appears to have been the first published directory for the City of Edinburgh, Canongate, Leith and Suburbs.
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Nisbet of that Ilk by Robert Chancellor Nesbitt
  • The most thorough investigation of the lineage of Nisbet of that Ilk on both sides of the Tweed, and other Nesbitt/Nisbet families including branches in Scotland, Ireland, the Continent, and North America. A facsimile reprint with additional material provided by Robert Anthony Ellis Nesbitt, the current Chief of the Name and Arms of Nesbitt (or Nisbet).
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  • The first edition published in 1941 by John Murray, London. Although difficult to locate, Bibliofind has recently listed two copies within a 6 month period.
Post Office Annual Directory - Edinburgh, Leith, and Newhaven Read document
  • Nesbitts and Nisbets listed in the 1830-31 letter-carriers' directory, listing "the Nobility, Gentry, Merchants, and Others, in Edinburgh, Leith, and Newhaven."
Register of Interments in the Greyfriars Burying-Ground ed. Henry Paton
  • A list of all Nisbet interments made in Greyfriars burying-ground, Edinburgh, between the years 1658 and 1700. "Between 1100 and 1200 interments took place in the burying-ground on an average yearly." As to the state of the Register itself, the editor notes that it was "... for the most part written in a wretched hand and is most illiterate, but as it was kept by the gravediggers themselves nothing else could well be expected."
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Scottish Family History by Margaret Stuart Read document
  • "A Guide to Works of Reference on the History and Genealogy of Scottish Families." Contains entries identifying published sources of information regarding Nesbitt/Nisbet families of Scotland, Ireland, Sweden, US, and Antigua.
The Scottish Nation by William Anderson Read document
  • A three-volume work published 1859-63 concerning "the Surnames, Families, Literature, Honours and Biographical History of the People of Scotland". Contains entries pertaining to several Nisbet families, particularly Nisbet of that Ilk, the Nisbets of Dirleton, and the Nisbets of Hardhill.
Sculptured Stones of Old Edinburgh: The Dean Group by John Geddie
  • A discussion of the heraldic and armorial stones removed from Dean House when it was demolished to accomodate the creation of Dean Cemetery, the stones being incorporated in the cemetery grounds. The author discusses the history and genealogy of the Nisbet families of  Dean, Craigentinny and Dirleton, and their participation in the history of Edinburgh. This article appeared in the initial volume of The Book of the Old Edinburgh Club, published in 1908. "Each volume contains a series of articles on by-gone Edinburgh life and history." Note: article size is 108k.
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South Leith Records by D. Robertson
  • Extracts from the Parish Registers of South Leith Parish Church for the years 1588 to 1700, providing fascinating glimpses into the lives of the parishioners. As well as depictions of day-to-day parish life, contains entries concerning suspected witchcraft, times of famine and plague, the struggle of the Covenanters, and the occupation of Leith by the forces of Cromwell, who requisitioned the Church for use as a stable. Contains a few entries pertaining to prominent Nisbets who belonged to the Church.
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